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Praise to the Stepfather

Child doing math homework

My thirteen-year-old daughter is in 7th grade and although I have a bachelor’s degree, I struggle to help her with math homework. Part of this is due to the fact that I haven’t had to simplify fractions or multiply negative numbers for years. Let’s be honest, most math we use on a daily basis consists of basic addition, subtraction, and division. Sure, we might need to figure out the amount to tip our server but as of late I’ve noticed that is even done for us. If you look at the bottom of most receipts the percent breakdown is neatly written there to guide, you. All we have to do is choose what amount of tip we want to give and copy it down. The lack of help I’m giving to my daughter is also tied to the fact that I know how to do the math in my head, but I can’t explain it in a way that she understands. As you can imagine this can be extremely frustrating for both her and I.

I’m not surprised that she and I are struggling, in fact I foresaw these instances while I was pregnant with her. At the time I wasn’t overly concerned because her dad is extremely smart when it comes to math. He was that annoying kid who got in trouble in high school for sleeping through math classes because he knew how to do all the problems and wasn’t challenged. Therefore, I didn’t think I had anything to worry about, I assumed that he would help our kids with their homework when the time came. Well, we all know what happens when we assume don’t, we? For those of you that don’t know let me tell you. When someone “assumes” they make an ASS out OF U & ME =ASSUME. Unfortunately, my daughter’s father (my now ex-husband) does not help his daughter with math, or with any of her schoolwork for that matter. Not helping is really what sums him up best. He doesn’t help his kids in any way shape or form. He doesn’t pay court ordered child support, nor does he provide school supplies or clothing to our two children. He offers zero help to them or me.

Let’s not dwell on the financial side of things, let us look at the larger picture. Everyone knows that kids need more than financial support. This post started off in regard to 7th grade math homework. But as much as you might have hoped, dear reader, my ex-husband has chosen not to provide emotional or intellectual support of any kind either. Why is this, you might wonder? Does he even see them? Does he live nearby? I can’t answer why because I don’t know the answer, but I can give a little more detail. Although the court gave me sole custody their father does still see them for a few hours each week. It’s my understanding that during this time he rarely talks to them and when he does the conversation revolves around topics that he enjoys discussing. This makes complete sense to me because it is the same interaction, I had with him for many years. Apparently, he has not changed in the years since he and I were divorced. He also seems to disagree with the actions I take to help our daughter with her math studies. When I hired a math tutor and my ex-husband found out about it, he told my daughter that she didn’t need a tutor, she just needed to focus on her math better. Did he help her or offer her any tricks on how to focus? No, he didn’t.

As much as I could go on and on about the lack of help my two children receive from their biological dad it is not what this blog post is about. I learned a long time ago that focusing on the bad does not help any situation. Therefore, I’m focusing this blog post on the recognition of all the people in our children’s lives that help and take responsibility for children that are not biologically their own. This could be a grandparent, family friend, teacher, neighbor or even a babysitter. In my case the person that has taken on the financial and emotional responsibilities of my two children is their soon-to-be stepfather, my fiancé.

My fiancé and I have been together for the last 8 years and over these 8 years our relationship has grown in many ways. However, it wasn’t until this evening when I watched him sitting next to my daughter helping her with her math homework that I realized how special those are who take on this role when biological parents have refused. After my daughter’s homework was finished and she was in bed I could tell my fiancé was frustrated. When we spoke, he explained to me what specific part of the math equation she was struggling with. He then explained his plan to fix the problem. He was frustrated because of the time constraint he had to help her this evening. He spoke about what needed to change and after listening I agreed to follow his plan. Seeing the problem, forming the plan, and executing it is his superpower in all aspects of his life. I’ve seen it time and time again and I will always follow him because he has proven that he is correct in every scenario we have been through for the entirety of our relationship. I would be a fool not to follow him.

Wedding rings on newspaper

With the kids asleep our evening continued but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much my daughter’s math struggles concerned my fiancé. It became clear that he had to do everything in his power to help her succeed. He has to lead her and show her not only how to do math but more importantly how to progress in her life. I could tell it was eating him up inside. It was at this moment that the last 8 years of our relationship came together for me. I saw how my fiancé’s commitment to not only me, but my two children have the ability to be detrimental to him. He has committed all of his being to us. Not only financially but more importantly emotionally and he has done so with the knowledge that he has taken on a huge burden. He has chosen to raise two children as his own.

What more can I do for him? Is he getting everything that he needs from me? These were the thoughts that immediately entered my mind as this realization hit me. So, I asked him to tell me what more he needed from me so I can ensure that I’m giving him everything that he needs. Our relationship has always worked in a circular pattern of giving. He to I and I to him, and this was no different. When I see him providing for myself and my kids, I want to do more for him. Am I being emotionally supportive? Am I taking care of him on a physical level? Am I allowing him to lead? Am I giving him the silence he needs to recharge? How can I do more? These are the questions that I ask myself.

In today’s society this way of thinking and treating a man is frowned upon and looked down on. However, it is the only way my relationship works, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. My fiancé works an average of 10 to 12 hours a day at his regular job, he then spends time with my kids helping them with schoolwork or being a positive male figure in their lives. He leads our family and shows us how real men should act. He spends money on us that he could be using for his retirement or to leave as an inheritance to his own son who is in college. He does all of the things that a father should do. I remember these things when I’m tired and don’t want to cook, or clean, or take care of him physically. I work a full-time job myself and after taking care of the house and kids I’m exhausted. Nonetheless I chose to have two children with a man who walked away from his responsibility as a father. Therefore, when my fiancé is taking on the role you better believe that I will do everything in my power to show him my appreciation.

This post is for all of the men out there that are doing the right thing by their families, whatever that family may look like. Your family might not consist of your biological children, but I can assure you that you are making a difference in the lives of those whose parents forgot about them. To all the women who have been blessed with these men, show them your appreciation. Tell them you see what they are doing, tell them you appreciate them and tell them they make your lives better.

A thank you candle


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Image by Tim Mossholder


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